Posts tagged “frustration

Lighthouse, Chapter 9

Posted on 10/05/2016

Another bites the dust, J.R. thought to himself as he stormed up the sidewalk to his father’s home hours later. True to his pessimistic prediction, another sponsor called just before closing to rescind his support of the immigration center. Mr. Earl Peters from Baton Rouge was not a part of the Southeast Coalition as Mrs. Ganesh or his father, but benefited from business connections with both in the past.

The battle between the older and younger Obed men must’ve made Mr. Peters squeamish about continuing his support of J.R.’s project.

“Family misunderstandings should be settled sooner than later. If family’s not in your corner, young buck, you’ve got no one,” Mr. Peters advised J.R. before ending the call.

But how could J.R. back down when he wasn’t the one at fault? How could he settle a matter that his father refused to let settle in the first place?

He heard laughter as he entered the house, the sound prickling his already-agitated nerves. He rounded the corner and came to a complete stop. In the family room where they hardly ever entertained sat his father beaming from ear to ear, and beside him a smiling Hana. A basket containing sparkling grape juice and fruit sat in the middle of the coffee table.

J.R’s brow furrowed darkly as he swung his glare to L.J. “What’s this?”

Hana’s smile waned at the sound of his voice and L.J.’s chuckling eased away.

“You’re late.” L.J. leaned into his chair; the leather squeaking under him, deafening the awkward silence.

“Had things to do,” J.R. replied offhandedly, catching the widening of Hana’s brown eyes. He couldn’t help but frown at the sight of her. What was she doing here?

She dipped her head slightly to acknowledge him. “Good to see you again, Bhaiyaa…”

Under normal circumstances, he would’ve been polite and said ‘likewise’ or something to that effect. However, his father’s smug expression and the pesky sight of the fruit had him return his accusing glare to L.J. “What happened to dinner?”

L.J.’s salt-and-pepper brows raised pointedly. “I couldn’t very starve while you finished the things you were doing. So Hana made me dinner. Butter chicken. Delicious, I might add.”

Hana dipped her head shyly. “Thank you, Babuji.”

He winked and patted her hand. To the normal eye, it was a harmless and kind gesture between the two, but all J.R. saw was the conspiring smile marking his father’s lips and he stood. “Good for you. I’ll take my leave then since you’ve got it covered.”

He heard the leather squeak behind him as he turned away.

Bhaiyaa, won’t you eat?”

He stiffened at the entreaty in Hana’s voice. She was a kind, innocent soul and didn’t deserve his anger but at that moment, she was siding with his enemy. “I’m not hungry.”

Hana’s silence made him hesitate. L.J. snorted. “Don’t mind him, he’s just sulking.”

J.R. started up the stairs, wise not to respond to his father’s goading as he used to as an adolescent.

“Did something happen?” Hana asked just before he closed his bedroom door.

There was no time to stew over his father’s underhanded methods to get him to yield. Bringing Hana over was the last straw and he would fight fire with fire. He just wasn’t sure what weapon to use. Flipping through an old rolodex on his desk, J.R. summoned memories of his father’s former business partners and acquaintances, all who either separated from L.J. because of his ruthless tactics or abrasive personality. Though L.J. had softened a lot from when J.R. was just a boy and had just lost his mother, J.R. had a feeling there were many who had yet to forgive L.J. for his harsh treatment of them while he was grieving.

Ignoring the niggling sense that this was dishonorable, J.R. flipped the pages while fueled on frustration and revenge. His phone rang in his pocket but he ignored it, intent on finding ammunition in whatever way possible to fight back against his father’s undermining tactics.

Then a knock sounded on his door. He paused and glanced once at the door, frowning that he didn’t lock it behind him. When the knock sounded again before the knob twisted, he pushed the rolodex behind him just as the door squeaked open. His brow furrowed as Hana stepped in, hesitation making her steps awkward. “Yes?” he asked, struggling to keep his voice even.

Hana gave him a faint smile, having the decency not to inspect his room as others would’ve done on first sight. Or maybe his father had already given her the grand tour without his permission. He fumed inwardly, knowing his father all too well. ‘That old—’

“You had a long day?”

J.R. stepped out of his rising irritation and met her eyes. “Pardon?”

Her smile widened and softened at the same time. She had this calm disposition that only troubled him, as though she knew something he didn’t.

“How old are you?”

Her brow arched in question. “Isn’t that rude to ask?”

“Is it?”

Her lips twitched. “You’re an odd one, Bhaiyaa…”

“So are you.”

She blinked but recovered quickly. “Oh?”

He folded his arms across his chest. “You seem old enough to hold your own, yet you allow my father to play games with—”

“It seems you’re the one that is odd…”

It was J.R.’s turn to raise his brows. “Oh?”

She dipped her head and her smile returned. “You think your father immature to play games and me foolish enough to let him lead me on.”

J.R. smirked. So she had a backbone. Good. He could speak more freely then. “I have no intentions of marrying you, Hana.”

Hana tilted her head slightly. “What makes you think I want you to, Raju?”

He paused, not expecting that response or the personal use of his name. His brow furrowed. “Then…”

She chuckled, her laugh soft and breathy. “You are certainly the odd one.” She started for the door.

“Wait,” he heard himself speak and grimaced when she turned expectantly. He had nothing to say.

Hana smirked knowingly. “Not many people can make butter chicken as good as me. I graciously brought you a plate before you had any regrets.”

J.R. choked a laugh. Her boldness was reminiscent of someone he knew. His smile waned as Darah’s face came to his mind’s eye, recalling the disappointment in her clear hazel eyes that night. He hadn’t spoken with her since that day, and he wondered when he ever would. Was she okay? Did she finally step out of her room to speak with her brothers? Did Abe and Bart make things worse–?

“So will you eat?”

He blinked from his thoughts and met Hana’s expectant gaze. Then he sighed, relenting. Butter chicken was his favorite meal and L.J. knew that all too well.

She didn’t wait for him to give a word, turning to the door. Within seconds, she returned with a tray of the scrumptious meal and J.R.’s traitorous stomach growled on cue.

He sheepishly accepted the tray, practically salivating. Only a few people knew how to make butter chicken the way he liked it, and L.J knew that too. He set the tray on his lap and forced his gaze back to her face. “Thanks for coming to make it.”

Hana shrugged a shoulder. “Not a problem. Goodnight.”

J.R. watched her exit the room and took a minute to ponder why he still felt unsettled even after she’d gone. Something seemed off about her being there, cooking in his house, and his father’s annoying smug smile. But his stomach growled and ached to taste his favorite meal, so he shoved the pesky feeling aside and dove in.

The next morning his stomach turned with vengeance, sending him out of his room and down the hall to the bathroom. The door was locked under his insistent nudging, and J.R. groaned. His father’s room was downstairs, which meant J.R. must’ve locked it by mistake. His stomach burned to expel the contents from last night, the guilty pleasure of a meal he should’ve been careful to eat. Reaching up the ledge of the doorframe to grab the key placed there, his hand stilled at the sound of flushing on the other side.

He frowned as the faucet ran and stopped. Then the door opened and J.R. stood frozen, mouth agape.

A bare-faced Hana with a towel turban over her dark locks stood on the other side of the door. His hand dropped and he took a step back. What was still she doing here? It hadn’t occurred to him until that moment that even though her parents had returned home, she would still be here.

Then she gave him a kind smile that only made his stomach clench tight. “Good morning, Raju.”

J.R.’s hand dropped to his side, too stunned for words.

A soft giggle escaped her throat as she edged around him. “The bathroom is all yours.” She peered over her shoulder at him before turning away.

J.R. didn’t enter the bathroom, instead storming down the stairs for his father’s room. The door was unlocked and his father stood in front of his closet, sorting a slew of ties he had long since retired. J.R.  plowed forward, not bothering to knock. “Father!”

L.J. dragged his eye to J.R.’s stormy expression in the mirror. “So you’re awake?”

“W-what is she doing h-here?”


“Hana!” he didn’t bother lowering his voice. “W-why d-did she come b-back?”

“Lower your voice.” L.J. hung another tie. “And I said we’d be hosting her for the duration of her stay.”

“H-how long i-is she s-staying?” J.R.’s brows slammed in a deep V, silently praying it wasn’t long.

“As long as she likes.”

J.R scowled. “Why?!”

L.J. huffed a sigh. “If you’d waited to hear the reason we were celebrating, you’d have known why—“

Babuji, please…” J.R. breathed in exasperation, weary of the back and forth.

“Hana matched her chosen residency for internal medicine.”

L.J.’s expression was akin to a cat that just swallowed a canary. The fire that burned J.R.’s stomach rose up his esophagus and he swallowed it down. “Let me guess… it’s in Houston.”

“Indeed.” L.J’s smile widened. “So be a good boy and congratulate her properly. You two should get along since she’ll be staying with us until she finds a place.”

Not sure whether to rant or just run of the house, J.R. stared at his father’s reflection. “Don’t you think you’re taking this a bit too far, Babu?” he marveled at his calm tone.

L.J. must’ve been surprised at his tame reaction because his dark eyes skittered over his, hands stilled over his ties. “Taking what too far, Beta? Can’t a father assist his son with his future?”

The gentle lilt of his father’s tone and the endearment almost caught him off guard. Almost.

J.R. shook his head. “Not if you’re taking the reins of my life completely.”

“I’m merely pushing you in the right direction.”

“That’s unnecessary since I know what I’m doing.”

L.J.’s brows lifted. “Do you?”

“Yes. Let go, Babu.”

“You remember what I said, don’t you?” L.J.’s gaze was unrelenting, hardening. “You have a year to fulfill my request or that center won’t happen.”

Ignoring the wave of panic, J.R. nodded. “Yes. Let go, Babu.”

L.J. smirked. “You won’t find someone by then. Just marry Hana and save yourself the trouble.”

J.R. smirked in return. “I will figure it out. Let go, Babu.”

L.J.’s smile waned and his brow furrowed slightly. “You have someone?”

“I might.” He didn’t. Not yet. But if he wouldn’t allow L.J. to win. Not this time. “Let go, Babu.”

L.J. squinted. “Who is she?”

“You’ll see in due time. Let go, Babu.”

“We’ll see.” L.J. rolled his eyes. “Fine. I’m letting go.”

J.R. watched his father step away from the closet, heard him murmur something under his breath as he disappeared into his bathroom. Although L.J. agreed begrudgingly to stop meddling, J.R. wasn’t taking any chances. He had to come up with something and fast. And he knew just where to start.

“That’s insane!” Phoebe protested, her voice carrying up the stairs. Darah could hear her and Geraldine talking, about her no doubt. The children were at school when Darah woke hours later, having ignored the breakfast and lunch taps at her door. Now her stomach turned with a fury that worried her and had Darah leaving her refuge to seek food downstairs.

At eight weeks, her breasts felt sore and the curves she’d coveted for years were starting to fill in. Instead of rejoicing, she panicked at the implications of becoming a single mother. Closing her eyes tight, she told herself to breathe. Being a mother was what she’d always wanted. Her hands moved to her stomach. Sure it didn’t come in the right order or in the right circumstance, but she was still going to be a mother. Preparing for it wouldn’t be easy but–

“Can his father really do that?” Phoebe continued, jerking Darah from her thoughts. “And I thought I was a meddler…”

“You are,” Geraldine answered. “But looks like Mr. Obed is a lot worse. Giving J.R. an ultimatum to get married or he won’t be able to build and operate his center is ridiculous.”

Darah paused at the stairs, recalling Clement’s words about J.R.’s father. She’d laughed it off earlier; J.R. was much too stubborn for matchmaking. But an ultimatum was different and no laughing matter.

“And J.R.’s desperate isn’t he?” Phoebe asked.

Darah frowned. Could J.R. be considered desperate? That man was the most composed, well-put-together person she’d ever known. Annoyingly sensible and could never do wrong by her except when he rejected her eighteen-year-old confession of love–

“This is his life’s dream, Phoebe. He’s always wanted this center and put his whole life’s saving into establishing it. If his father blocks every source of support, poor guy’s without a center.”

“Oh no.”

Her gut tightened, imagining J.R. stalwartly supporting her siblings during every trial they faced, supporting them in whatever way he could. He was family and the thought of him facing something troublesome troubled her.

“So he has no choice but to consider the girl his father picked?”

She shook her head as she took another step down and another. There was no way J.R. would agree to something so undermining. He was much too principled.

But then again, desperate times called for desperate measures. Could J.R. be convinced? Her heart fluttered as an idea sprang forth in her mind.

“I don’t see what other choice he has,” Geraldine answered.

“Of course he has a choice,” Darah spoke up as she got to the landing. Her sisters-in-law turned in their seats, brows raised as though surprised to see her standing there. She placed her hands on her hips. “And I’m gonna help him make it.”

Geraldine arched a brow. Phoebe blinked. “What choice is that?”

“The obvious choice. Me.”

Phoebe’s mouth dropped open in shock. Geraldine frowned. “Huh?”

Darah’s lips twitched. “J.R. and I will get married. Problem solved.”

Geraldine’s jaw slackened.

<<Chapter 8 || Chapter 10>>

Lighthouse, Chapter 7

Posted on 27/04/2016

Darah fought a shiver as her older brothers, Abe and Bart, studied her in the wake of announcing her unexpected pregnancy. For the last hour, Abe remained silent with a stony expression while Bart continued his display of unabashed anger.

“I just don’t get it.” Bart glared at her. “What possessed you to do this?”

Abe’s jaw tightened, his unreadable expression more frightening than Bart’s.

“Bart…” Phoebe cautioned softly, her eyes volleying between Abe and Darah.

“So not only did you completely disregarded our rules about not dating till thirty, but you got pregnant also?” Bart scoffed incredulously.

“You know that rule didn’t make any sense,” Darah mumbled, careful not to look at Abe.

“Darah,” Geraldine said through clenched teeth. “I’d stop talking, if I were you.”

“Who is he?”

All eyes turned to Abe, for this was the only thing he’d said since the announcement.

Darah trembled at her brother’s unreadable expression and unable to hold eye contact, she dropped her gaze. “I don’t know…”

Someone gasped, probably Phoebe. Geraldine groaned into her hands.

“One night stand?”

Darah squeezed her eyes shut, feeling nauseated all over again. “No.”

“Don’t lie to me. Who is he, Darah?”

She peered up at Abe’s face and swallowed at his expression darkening in impatience. “I…”

“Did you have a boyfriend?” Phoebe asked gently, her eyes pleading with Darah to cooperate.

“Don’t know which is worse. Having a boyfriend she’s not allowed to have or a one-night stand.” Bart muttered an expletive and dragged a hand over his face.

Phoebe sighed in exasperation. “Bart, please…”

“I’m twenty-five,” Darah groused, angry that her brothers’ stupid rule had caused her this problem. “If I had the freedom to date like normal people, this wouldn’t have happened.”

The room went silent, all eyes on her. Phoebe looked disappointed, Geraldine exasperated, Bart furious, and Abe… Abe stood slowly.


Phoebe jerked her attention back to her husband. “Abe…”

Abe’s eyes never left his sister’s face. “Twenty-five years old and you still refuse to own up to your mistakes. This is disappointing, Darah. Very disappointing.”

Darah watched her eldest brother stalk around the coffee table and toward the stairs. He ignored Phoebe’s entreaty, his heavy footsteps on the stairs making Darah’s heart pound faster. Those words hurt more than Bart’s fury.

“Is Abe okay?” Geraldine asked, tugging at Bart’s arm.

“Besides his baby sister breaking his heart?” Phoebe exhaled a breath. “Just give him time.”

“Who is he, Darah?” Bart demanded, losing what little restraint he had on his anger.

Geraldine clutched his shoulder. “You need to calm down… Getting angry won’t change what’s happened. Calm down.”

His stare remained fixed on Darah. “I asked who the low-life is that made you this way.”

“No.” She tightened her jaw. Telling any of them about Jeremy would be a bigger mistake; she couldn’t have any of her brothers go to jail for killing the fool. “He doesn’t matter.”

Bart’s scowl darkened. “Don’t make me angry, Darah.”

“You’re already angry, Bart.”

The doorbell rang before Bart could answer in kind and all three women relaxed visibly.

Geraldine shot to her feet and hurried to the door. “That better be J.R. He’s the only one that can talk some sense into you.” She pulled open the door with her free hand. “Good, you’re here.”

Bart let out a bitter laugh as he stood. “I have half the mind to punch you.”

The stoic J.R. blinked. “And why would you do that?”

If this wasn’t a dire situation with her life on the line, Darah would’ve laughed at J.R.’s stiff formality. His stoic personality could be off-putting at times but reassuring when it counted. She hadn’t realized how calming his presence was until now.

“If you’d married this girl when we asked you to,” Bart groused. “We wouldn’t be having this problem.”

Darah stood scowling. “Stop with that foolishness. J.R. has nothing to do with this.”

“Then why did you text him?” Geraldine asked, giving Darah a pointed look.

“Because…” Darah floundered, eying J.R.’s quizzical expression. “Because…”

J.R.’s frown deepened. “What’s going on?”

Bart glared at his sister. “You want to act like you’re so independent and don’t need anyone’s input, yet call for backup instead of taking responsibility for your mess. Real mature, Darah.” He shrugged off Geraldine’s hand and pushed past J.R. out the front door.

All three women flinched when Bart slammed the door and J.R. started after his friend.

“Wait a minute,” Darah’s voice made him pause.

He turned back around, brows raised quizzically.

“Why are you going after him when I called you?”

Geraldine scoffed in disgust. Phoebe rolled her eyes. “Seriously, Darah…”

“Never mind. Goodnight.” Darah walked around the sofa and up the stairs to her temporary bedroom.

Both Phoebe and Geraldine shook their heads when Darah slammed the bedroom door behind her.

“What a mess.” Geraldine clucked her tongue in disapproval and folded her arms over her chest.

“You think your mom can keep the kids for the night?” Phoebe asked, gnawing at her bottom lip. “We’re not done with this conversation and I don’t want them to worry.”

Geraldine sighed. “They probably just think it’s one big sleepover and could care less where we are. I’ll call her after Bart calms down… God knows how long that’ll take.”

J.R. frowned. “Where’s Abe? What’s going on?”

“Darah’s pregnant and the whole family is in a state of emergency. Abe’s fighting to keep his blood pressure down, Bart could face death row if he doesn’t calm down and I’m about to lose it myself.” She blew out a shaky breath. “Not sure why Darah thought getting you involved would do her any good, but now you know. Got any suggestions?”

Flabbergasted, J.R. merely stared at the two women; for he had nothing to say.

“So what did they say?” Tess asked over the phone a few minutes after Darah locked herself in Eleazar’s bedroom. She’d called her best friend shortly after changing to her pajamas and was curled up in bed, coloring in one of Karla’s paint-by-number sets. “Did Bart flip out?”

Darah snorted, picking up another coloring pencil. “Obviously.”

“What about Abe?”

Her fingers stilled over the pencil as she recalled Abe’s stormy expression and the only words he’d said all night. No doubt he was as furious as Bart, but for some reason, his anger hurt Darah more.

“He was pissed?”

“Hmm.” Darah swallowed the lump in her throat. She nudged the coloring set aside and rolled onto her back. Her eyes stung with unshed tears and she blinked them away.

“Well they have a right to, I guess,” Tess continued. “You’re their baby sister.”

Darah sighed heavily and turned on her side, facing Eleazar’s desk. She replayed Abe’s words of disappointment and felt a tear slide down her cheek.

“Ugh, not this chick again.”

Darah blinked out of her reverie. “What?”

“This girl only ever hits me up when she wants something.”

She frowned, sitting up. “Who?”

“Some girl in my creative writing class.” Tess snorted. “Like she won’t hit me up until she’s bored or has nothing better to do. Never once does she call to find out how I’m doing or just chat because. Anyway, I’m done with her fake friendship. Hold on, let me text her back real quick.”

Darah’s frown deepened as she listened to the telltale taps of Tess typing a message to her ‘fake friend’, all the while feeling sad. Aside from Tess’ texts, her phone lay silent. What was more disconcerting was she didn’t even know her best friend was in a creative writing class.

“Okay back,” Tess spoke after a long pause. “Chick wants me to read her stuff, like I don’t have anything better to do.”

“Do you?”

“Yeah, I’m talking to you.”

Darah managed a smile and rested her cheek against the pillow. “Thanks…”

“Of course.” Then Tess sighed heavily. “But let me go read this girl’s stuff before she blows up my phone all night. Sorry babe.”

“It’s okay,” Darah answered half-heartedly. “I shouldn’t be on the phone anyway…”


“Because the walls are thin and my family thinks I’m too distraught to have a conversation, much less use the phone.” She stared at the ceiling, watching the fan blades turn.

“… Darah?”

Tears filled her eyes, blurring the whirling fan blades. Getting pregnant as a single woman wasn’t part of the plan. After her parents’ passing, twelve-year-old Darah had planned out her life, avowing never to be surprised by life again. Getting married and then having children was the plan and Jeremy ascribed to it perfectly. He charmed her with promises of marriage and a family with him. And like an immature fool, she’d surrendered to what she believed was love but what turned out to be a lie.


“Hmm?” Her hand moved to her flat stomach, feeling nauseous all over again. Even though she’d watched both Phoebe and Geraldine have children of her own, she didn’t know the first thing of being a mother. And her family would most likely disown her after this. Dread choked her lungs, forcing her to draw in a shaky breath.

“Are you scared?”

Darah willed away the tears and her disturbing thoughts. At least until Tess got off the phone. “Go read your fake friend’s writing. We’ll talk later.”

Tess sighed. “You’ll figure it out, Darah. You’re a smart girl.”

She managed a smile and after wishing her best friend a good night, disconnected the call. “Being smart is not going to fix this…”

Tears dropped onto the phone screen and Darah began to weep openly.

Dazed, J.R. stepped into his house an hour later with Bart’s words replaying in his head.

“If you’d stopped being a coward,” Bart shouted. “We wouldn’t be in this mess!”

Throat clogged with words unspoken, J.R. walked past the three adults sitting in the family room without a word of greeting and started for his room.

“Raju,” L.J. spoke up just as J.R. reached the stairs.

J.R. turned, gaze listless. “Yes Father?”

L.J. frowned from where he sat. “Don’t you see we have guests you’ve kept waiting all night?”

Not taking another step forward, J.R. sighed. “Look, it’s been a long day and I’m not in the mood.”

L.J. squinted at his son. “Not in the mood…?”

“Lalana,” Dabir said quietly, putting a hand over his friend’s shoulder. “It’s okay.”

J.R. could care less that his father felt embarrassed in front of his company. All he wanted to do was go to his room and punch whatever he could get his hands on. “If you’ll excuse me…”

“Stop right there.”

J.R. held back a groan and turned to face his father that now stood akimbo. “What is it?”

The exasperated response made Dabir exchange wary glances with his wife, and irritated L.J. “Where have you been all night? I called you several times.”

Choosing not to point out it wasn’t even eleven p.m., J.R. sighed. “I was busy.”

“Busy,” L.J. echoed incredulously, his dark eyes narrowed at his son. “Did you forget we had an appointment with your uncle and aunty?”

J.R. bit back the response that he barely knew this couple. Instead, he arched a brow at his father. “No Father, I didn’t forget you had an appointment.”

L.J.’s jaw tightened. “What?”

Sighing, J.R. turned to the wide-eyed couple. “I’m sorry Mr. and Mrs. Sharma, but I am not interested in having a conversation about marriage with either of you.”

<<Chapter 6 || Chapter 8>>

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